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Aetna is a large insurance company that provides benefits programs for many companies. Aetna's CEO Mark Bertolini has publicly endorsed naturopathic care as primary care at the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ annual conference. 

In his article on Mark Bertolini's keynote speech, James Maskell, who is CEO of Revive Primary Care,  states:

"Currently, naturopaths can operate as primary care physicians in only 17 states, but Aetna sees the value of the cost savings for prevention of chronic disease."

Even though this information applies to the United States, with an endorsement like this, the effect will also be felt in Canada since Aetna has a Canadian subsidiary.  I think this is a BIG deal, perhaps even the emergence of a tipping point that may result in broader access to integrated care and more primary care options on both sides of the border.  Kudos to Aetna for taking this step. 

 


Comments

10/10/2013 12:25pm

This IS a big step towards a more complete health care approach; I agree that prevention of chronic illness is JUST as important for people as the acute illness prevention that we obsess over here in the U.S. Great article!

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Dr. Janet
10/10/2013 12:45pm

Thank you. It's encouraging news for natural health enthusiasts on both sides of the border! Thanks for your comments Drew.

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10/10/2013 1:24pm

Some of these naturopathic remedies don't have ANY scientific backing and they shouldn't be included in the list of acceptable naturopathic remedies for health care. I think some of the treatments like homeopathic remedies--series of diluted solutions that are said to make your body stronger as you keep lowering the dosage concentration.
Some things like exercise and proper diet management may be acceptable forms of chronic illness prevention. I'm not an expert in this area, but this is what I've taken away from material that I have read. Thanks for the info!

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Dr. Janet
10/10/2013 1:45pm

Thanks for a great post Jim.

It's true that not all forms of natural treatment are well supported by research. That same statement also applies, however, to some mainstream medical treatments as well.

What's important is to have access to options, to consider the ones that don't trigger your personal BS-detector, and to ensure you are fully apprised of benefits and risks before undertaking ANY treatment.

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10/10/2013 2:00pm

Awesome information, the poor diet choices and lack of exercise here in the U.S. is jaw-dropping. I think we should be so much healthier with the vast library of information available to internet users, but it seems that conventional advertising campaigns and swaying the general public into an induced state of numbness--in regards to health concerns--has prevailed over time.
As we are more and more detached from reality (with increasingly high tech phones that pull us out of reality, to a degree) we tend to put less and less thought into things that go on in the world around us--i.e. energy problems, pollution problems, water shortages, food shortages, the list goes on--and more thought in the physical appearance and status that we project ourselves to have.
I'm not declaring that physical appearance is something that we are just now thinking about; I am trying to emphasize the epidemic increase in caring almost exclusively about these types of dilemmas and ignoring infinitely more prominent issues at hand.

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Dr. Janet
10/10/2013 2:19pm

Jeff - thank you for a thought-provoking post.

I agree that society is increasingly more focused on the triumph of style over substance, to the detriment of our health when it causes us to ignore the basics: a clean, safe environment in which to live, pure water to drink and health food to eat.

I'm an optimist though - I believe that eventually more and more people will look up from their smart phones to see what is going on around them and that human ingenuity will prevail over the scary things that are happening now.

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10/10/2013 2:45pm

I agree, some of the mainstream forms of treatment aren't quite as backed up by data as they are sometimes portrayed. All options should definitely be considered before pulling them from potential treatment options--and there are definitely many "sub-treatments" that can help indirectly.
Take massage therapy or chiropractic measures, for example; do these take cancer away? Probably not. Do they help to relieve stress and make your quality of life better--in turn, preventing the cancer from taking over EVERY aspect of your life? More than likely.
Awesome article here, Janet!

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Dr. Janet
10/11/2013 10:13am

Thanks for some great comments, Gary, and for adding to Jim's observations.

If you don't read scientific research routinely, you might think that it is very definitive, very "black and white" in its conclusions. In fact, that's not the case at all. Even pharmaceutical research, which tends to be highly structured, often delivers inconclusive results accompanied by a call for more research.

Because it's so difficult to state anything declarative about treatments, whether they are mainstream or CAM, it's important to use your common sense when evaluating their potential risks and benefits.

Ultimately, the two things that have the biggest long term impact on health are your diet and lifestyle. If a low-risk treatment can help you to improve either of those, it may be worth doing.

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10/14/2013 1:58pm

Wow, this discussion is great compared to almost any other blog I've seen, Janet! I don't usually witness bloggers leaving as many thoughtful replies as you do--thanks for putting the effort into it!
On a related note, I do think that this could lead to more "healthy choices" being made in daily life instead of so many "unhealthy choices". Reducing the number of unhealthy items we intake and preventative maintenance are big keys to raising the overall health of our country, I think! (that and a bit of exercise of course!)

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Dr. Janet
10/15/2013 10:22am

Thank you for the compliment, Chris. I feel that if readers go to the trouble of posting thought-provoking replies, the least I can do is respond in kind.

I agree with your comments, to which I would add the old maxim "everything in moderation". As Charles M. Schultz said, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." =)

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10/14/2013 2:34pm

I've read into a few of the more prominent treatments offered by naturopathy and I feel like there may be a lack of evidence in favor of the success of naturopathic remedies. Things like acupuncture and massage therapy can really relieve stress--and I know that is very unhealthy for you because of the more frequent constrictions of your arteries that carry critical oxygen to your body.

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Dr. Janet
10/15/2013 10:39am

Thanks for your comments, Mark. You are certainly not alone in your reservations about natural health care, and I agree it's important to ensure that any treatment you take makes sense to you.

The major forms of treatment that I use are clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle counseling, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and physical medicine. All of these are well-supported by research and are relied upon in some way in conventional healthcare.

Most pharmaceutical medications begin their lives as plant constituents which are then refined, purified and occasionally altered to amplify an effect. Hydrotherapy and physical medicine appear in the mainstream healthcare industry as physiotherapy and sports medicine. Clinical nutrition and lifestyle counseling are also well-established parts of mainstream healthcare. Acupuncture is now commonly included as a supporting treatment for fertility concerns in conventional healthcare.

Because there are many overlaps between the natural and conventional forms of healthcare, and because people are interested in making use of both forms, integrative medicine is emerging as a model that tries to take the best from both worlds. I think this is the future of modern medicine.

One form of natural treatment that many consider to be speculative is homeopathy. I have provided some information about it on this website because people often ask about it. Homeopathy is considered to be a form of energy medicine. As such, it's mode of action does not conform well to the preferred structure of research studies (double blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trials). As we come to understand better how homeopathy works, we will be able to design controlled studies that will more accurately and fairly evaluate it's potential or lack thereof - we're just not there yet.

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